Education and Social Mobility


  • The term education is derived from the Latin word e-ducere, which means “to lead out.”
  • We educate and train humans as well as animals.
  • “the process of receiving or imparting systematic instruction, particularly in schools or school-like institutions”
  • “The act or process of educating or being educated.”

Social Mobility:-

The movement of an individual or group from one social position to another over time is referred to as social mobility.

Different scholars define social mobility differently, some of them are following;

  • Fairchild defines as “Social Mobility is a movement from one condition to another”
  • according to Bredemeyer and Stephensen, “Social Mobility is moving of an individual or group of people from one status to another.”
  • Horton and Hont say that ” Social Mobility may be defined as the act of moving from one social class to another.


  • Pitirim Sorokin, a Russian-born American sociologist and political activist, popularized the concept of social mobility in his book “Social and Cultural Mobility.”
  • He claims that there is no such thing as a completely open society (such as the class system) or a completely closed society (like the caste system in India).

Types of Social Mobility:-

there are five types of social mobility:

1. Territorial Mobility:

  • It is the relocation of one’s residence from one location to another.
  • This mobility is rare in rural Pakistan because the people of the community dislike leaving their ancestral home.
  • People in cities sell one house and buy another; they leave one and rent another; they leave one city and move to another.
  • When movement of people from one place to another then it is called territorial mobility.

2. Vertical Mobility:

  • It is defined as any increase or decrease in an individual’s or group’s absolute or relative rank.
  • Examples of Vertical mobility are as a job promotion or demotion, a change in income etc.

there are two types of vertical mobility;

(a) Upward Mobility:- 

  • This is when a person advances from a lower to a higher social position.
  • People in higher positions within the same societal group can also be included.
  • However, while upward mobility is viewed positively, it can come at a cost to individuals.
  • Increase in income, promotion in job, achieving a higher rank job are the examples of upward mobility.

(b) Downward Mobility:-

  • When a person moves from a higher to a lower position in society, this is referred to as downward mobility.
  • It can happen when someone is caught doing something wrong that could lead to them losing their current position.
  • Downward mobility can be extremely stressful for people whose social status is rapidly deteriorating.
  • They may struggle to adjust to the new environment because it is not comparable to the standard of living they are accustomed to.
  • Losing a job, loss in business, decrease of income etc. are ten examples of downward mobility.

3. Horizontal Mobility:

  • This occurs when a person’s occupation changes but their overall social standing remains unchanged.
  • For example, if a doctor transitions from practicing medicine to teaching in a medical school, their occupation has changed, but their prestige and social standing are likely to remain unchanged.
  • According to Sorokin, horizontal mobility is defined as a shift in religious, territorial, political, or other horizontal shifts with no change in vertical position.

4. Inter-generational mobility:

  • Intergenerational mobility occurs when a generation’s social position shifts from one to the next.
  • The shift can be either upward or downward.
  • For example, a father might work in a factory while his son pursues an education that will allow him to become a lawyer or a doctor.

5.Intra-generational mobility:

  • The intra-generational change in societal position occurs during the lifespan of a single generation.
  • It can also refer to a change in position between siblings.
  • One way is when a person climbs up the corporate ladder in their career.
  • For example, an individual starts their career as a clerk and through their life moves on to a senior position such as a director. One sibling may also achieve a higher position in society than their brother or sister.

Causes of Social Mobility

the following are the causes which bring about social mobility;

1. Dissatisfaction from previous condition:-

  • People never remain in the same situation in their lives indefinitely.
  • They want it to change.
  • The old state does not serve the purpose of new social ways of life.
  • They leave and attend to their new life situation.

2. Adoption of new condition:-

  • People abandon previous conditions in favor of new ones that are functional in light of new ways of life.
  • The adoption of new ways of life is referred to as social mobility.

3. Industrial and Technological Development:-

  • The advancement of technology and industry has wreaked havoc on society’s socioeconomic structure.
  • People’s modes of living change, resulting in changes in their attitudes, ideas, habits, customs, and sentiments.
  • It implies that the entire socio-cultural life has changed.
  • We have social mobility here.

4. Education:-

  • Education advancement is critical in an industrially advanced society.
  • Technology, industry, and education are all developing at the same time and are inextricably linked.
  • Education advancement makes a society mobile.

5. Urbanization:-

  • Urbanization refers to the growth of urban populations and modern attitudes.
  • It is also linked to the advancement of education, technology, and industry.
  • These elements are inextricably linked.

6. Means of Communication and Transportation:-

  • Communication and transportation play important roles in bringing about social change.
  • People’s traditional attitudes change as a result of these sources of information, and they accept modern ways of life.

Role of Education in Social Mobility


  • the primary means of social mobility
  • provides an opportunity to make amends for the various wrongs committed by previous generations
  • but it is also important to note that it cannot be regarded as a channel for obtaining bureaucratic jobs

Functions of Education

  • Education is a stepping stone to the professions.
  • Education not only allows a person to gain knowledge, but it also serves as a passport to a higher-paying job.
  • Education opens the door to high-paying government jobs.

Effects of Education

  • It is obvious that the more years one spends in school, the greater one’s chances of earning a high income and moving up the social ladder.
  • Education not only provides the credentials needed to pursue a variety of occupations, but it also enables people to see beyond traditional stereotypes.
For example, the more years of education person receives, the more likely it is that they will understand the importance of using contraception. 
• The quality of education has an impact on students’ life chances.
For instance, students’ course choices in high school and college have been found to influence their later earning power.
Overall, we can say that education is not a direct channel of mobility, but it can help people prepare to take advantage of changes in occupational structure. Only when expansion and changing technology create more high-level jobs will education be beneficial to mass social mobility.
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